The Sunday porch: Black River Falls

“Ray Allen family near Black River Falls, Wisconsin,” June 1937, by Russell Lee,  via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

In the early summer of 1937, Lee took a number of photos around the community of Black River Falls. Most were related to a land use project of the U.S. Resettlement Administration, for which he was a photographer.

The principal employment in Black River Falls, since its founding in 1839, was logging and sawmills. However, many of the people Lee photographed there were farming cut-over areas.

Black River Falls, Wisconsin

“Individual beds at nursery. Black River Falls project, Wisconsin,” June 1937, by Russell Lee, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

In the early summer of 1937, Lee took a number of photos around the community of Black River Falls. Most were related to a land use project of the U.S. Resettlement Administration, for which he was a photographer.

The principal employment in Black River Falls, since its founding in 1839, was logging and sawmills. However, many of the people Lee photographed there were farming cut-over areas.

Today, the town is probably best known as the subject of the 1973 book (and 1999 filmWisconsin Death Trip. 

Alvin, Wisconsin

“Gate made from the end of an old bed. Alvin, Wisconsin,” May 1937, by Russell Lee, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Alvin was named for one of its founders, Alvin Spencer, who had moved his family to the area in 1907.

In order to submit a request for its own Post Office, the little Forrest County community where the Spencers had settled had to have a name. Alvin submitted the name of another community leader, Curtis Powell, for consideration. Curtis submitted his friend Alvin’s name. Since there was already a town named Curtis in the state, the new community was dubbed Alvin, Wisconsin.

Spencer family history

I love that they submitted each other’s first names.

Generations

“Trying to hear,” Wisconsin, May 1973, by David Brill, via U.S. National Archives Commons on flickr.

This photo was taken for DOCUMERICA, an early photography program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

From 1972 to 1977, the EPA hired over 100 photographers to “document subjects of environmental concern.” They created an archive of about 20,000 images. In addition to recording damage to the nation’s landscapes, the project captured “the era’s trends, fashions, problems, and achievements,” according to the Archives, which held an exhibit of the photos, “Searching for the Seventies,” in 2013.

The Sunday porch: Halloween

Halloween back porch, HABS, Library of Congress
Front porch of a farmhouse ready for Halloween, near Elderon, Wisconsin, 1994, by John N. Vogel for an Historic American Building Survey (HABS), via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The HABS noted the house’s “prominent front porch with Tuscan columns and hipped roof” and called it “a good example of the Gabled Ell form” of Wisconsin vernacular architecture. There are wider views here.